By Laura Moriarity
Published by: Penguin/Penguin Audio June 5, 2012
Narrated by: Elizabeth McGovern
Length: 13 hours 14 minutes
Source: Purchased from Audible.com
The year is 1922 and Cora Carlisle is living in Wichita Kansas when she learns the daughter of a prominent family in town will soon be heading to New York City to study dance. The fifteen year old Louise Brooks has been accepted to the esteemed Denishawn School of Dancing, and her mother is looking for a chaperone to accompany her for a month. Cora surprises both her husband Allen and her friends when she volunteers for this role. Cora has other interests in visiting New York.
When Cora is introduced as a 36 year old married mother of two, she appears settled and to some even dowdy. She’s aware of the changes in fashion and what young people see as progress, no longer wearing corsets, hemlines grazing the knee, bobbing their hair and wearing make up. Louise is a young woman in direct contrast to Cora. She’s young but flirtatious,impetuous, and anticipates her love of NYC. Cora is deliberate, and mature, and thoughtful, she’s careful in most of her actions.
I love that Cora surprised me, Cora was adventurous, and while learning answers to long festering questions she didn’t always get what she wanted, but instead she let go of old secrets and she allowed herself to admit the things that were imperfect in her life.
This book was simply a fascinating and intimate look back nearly 90 years ago and be wowed by where women were and how far we have come. Laura Moriarity has captured this era, and everything rings true. I imagine the research was intense. Certainly using a real person, like Louise Brooks, was a good historical reference. I spent some time researching Ms Brooks and her career in film. The real star of this book is the character of Cora, and Moriarity kept me riveted to the development and change in this character start to finish.
When I learned Elizabeth McGovern was narrating this book, it was a done deal for me. I love her as an actress, from her newlywed bride character in the 1988 She’s Having a Baby with Kevin Bacon to her portrayal of Cora Crowley in the PBS series Downton Abbey she’s been well cast in this role again. Her voice and her characterizations were very well done.
I gave this book a 5 out of 5 stars and I’ve been telling everyone about it. I’ve read great reviews of the written book, but I assure you the audiobook is pure joy.